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The Clock Without a Face

3.79  ·  Rating Details ·  183 Ratings  ·  51 Reviews
We’ve buried 12 emerald-studded numbers—each handmade and one of a kind—in 12 holes across the United States. These treasures will belong to whoever digs them up first. The question: Where to dig? The only path to the answer: Solve the riddles of The Clock Without a Face!

The call comes in from the shadowy Ternky Tower: 13 robberies, one on each floor, all the way u
Board Book, 30 pages
Published April 27th 2010 by McSweeney's (first published 2010)
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Guns, Germs, and Steel by Jared DiamondThe Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca SklootMe Talk Pretty One Day by David SedarisOne Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García MárquezCollapse by Jared Diamond
68th out of 150 books — 130 voters
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Armchair Treasure Hunts!
11th out of 21 books — 11 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Mar 21, 2010 Betsy rated it it was amazing
Treasure hunts. Wouldn’t it be marvelous to be a part of one? I think the popularity of books like Charlie and the Chocolate Factory or The 39 Clues or even The Gollywhopper Games really has a lot to do with our own private wish fulfillment. Wouldn’t you love to be a part of a real world treasure hunt? One where you could follow clues and end up with a marvelous prize of your very own? Enter the world’s weirdest book. I’m sure there are other words for it, but the term “weird” sticks out promine ...more
Apr 26, 2011 Lora rated it it was amazing
Shelves: children-s-lit
This was fantastic! It is a story, but also a picture puzzle mystery, AND the adventure continues in real life for readers to actually participate in solving the mystery themselves! So cool and original.

It made me think of The Westing Game plus Graeme Base. Each page is a level of an apartment building, giving information and parts of the story that take place on that floor, including a very detailed picture of the floor. The pictures contain lots of clues, so keep an eye peeled.

I can't wait to
Jul 25, 2016 Jennifer rated it really liked it
This book is just so cool. Finn (age 7) enjoyed looking at the pictures with me, and they inspired him to do some similar drawings, but the story itself is still a little over his head, and some of the jokes a little too advanced. I'm thinking when he's about 10 we will revisit.
Everything about this puzzle of a book is clever, fun and thought-provoking. Highly recommended.

*I paused to enjoy the image. A gorilla with a walking stick, and perhaps a top hat and a monocle - probably attending the th
Feb 06, 2011 Matt rated it it was amazing
Shelves: mcsweeneys
This is a great puzzle and armchair treasure hunting book. I read it to my kids, and we loved poring over each floor and searching both the images and text for clues. It was a great concept, very well executed, with exquisitely detailed drawings. I definitely recommend it, and hope there is a sequel!
Jan 04, 2011 Ruhama rated it it was amazing
Shelves: juvenile

Fans of Where's Waldo or books by Graeme Base will enjoy this mystery. It seems the jewel-encrusted hands of the Emerald Khroniker have been stolen, and it's up to Roy Dodge, private detective and his confidential assistant, Gus Twintig, to solve the case. Each page reveals a different level of the 13 floor building, with a brief bit of banter with each resident and a drawing of the apartment, which reveals clues to astute readers. As the pair progress down the building, each apartment dweller g
Sarah Sammis
Nov 15, 2011 Sarah Sammis rated it liked it
The Clock without a Face by Gus Twintig (Scott Teplin, Mac Barnett, and illustrator Eli Horowitz) showed up on the new shelf in the children's library a few months ago. Attracted by the odd shape and the detailed cover illustration, I checked out the book. Rather, I attempted to check out the book but the odd shape made it impossible for the self-service scanner. So after standing in line to talk to the circulation desk I was finally able to take the book home.

Although this is a thirty page boar
Sep 12, 2010 Lisa rated it it was amazing
Shelves: middle-grade, mystery
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Mark Schlatter
A beautifully illustrated short detective story that ends cleverly and sets up a search for the reader (i.e., decode all the right information and find actual emerald encrusted clock numerals hidden around the U.S.) As of this reading (in summer 2013), I believe all or almost all of the numerals have been found, and most of the internet presences supporting the book have been removed.

From what I can tell, the math is hit or miss (a few equations to solve, but a stronger emphasis on deducing loca
Casey Harvey
This book is a puzzle book concerning the mystery of a real robbery and pseudo-robberies that leaves the reader with plenty of clues to find and solve even after the main narrative has been taken care of. Aside from the fact that this book is a really fun, interactive experience, the biggest draw is that it makes you feel like a certain consulting detective (There are numerous references to him and lots of other cool popular culture references in the book! A veritable geek feast!):


Sadly, the cl
May 31, 2010 Kerri rated it liked it
Was this written for kids? I didn't know when I got it. I also didn't know, until I got to the end, that it involves an actual real life treasure hunt. The actual mystery in the book is not put together as well as I'd hoped. I actually found most of the clues before reading the solution, but they weren't concrete enough to confidently come up with the answer to the mystery. The "real life" hunt for the clock numbers seems like the really fun part, but I was too late in the game for that. The ...more
Leila T.
Apr 23, 2011 Leila T. rated it liked it
Quirky and interesting, I'm not sure whether the layout completely worked for me, but it was still a bit of a compelling read and a nice little brain teaser. I'm finding it a little difficult to discover whether all the emerald numbers have been unearthed yet? Or perhaps I should say that the interwebs provide conflicting and confusing information. Also, I don't know whether I'm just being my usual persnickety self or whether I've imbibed some of Krieger Manzarek's paranoia when I question the ...more
Apr 30, 2010 Vy rated it really liked it
What fun! It's a real-life treasure hunt! At the most elementary level, younger kids will enjoy scanning the pictures; it makes for a great "I spy" game. Older kids will be able to find the items that have been taken from each tenant's room. As for the clues to the whereabouts of the treasure in the real world? That's anyone's guess.

This reminds me of Masquerade by Kit Williams, which I was given when I was young. The pictures are nowhere near as lavish as Williams's book, but the elements are m
Jun 09, 2010 Kirsten rated it really liked it
It is a great story that begets more stories, and the Clock Without a Face has done so brilliantly. There's not a soul alive that couldn't be profited by at least pondering a real treasure hunt--which is what this book offers to its first readership, and those who come in the wake will enjoy the story that went on and on (visit the website to see the continuing tale: All that aside, even the non-treasure-seeking--in fact even the non-reading--will be charmed by the imagi ...more
Jul 22, 2010 Rebecca rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: 4th grade and up

"McSweeney's proudly announces the publication of The Clock Without a Face—a house-shaped board book, a rollicking whodunit, a nationwide treasure hunt, an event not to be missed."

I pored over this book for some time, and, having read how the "solved" floors were solved, concluded that I'm not smart enough to solve one of my own. Still, if you need to buy a gift and the treasures aren't all found, this could keep a kid occupied for a good looooong time.
Jul 28, 2010 Amy rated it really liked it
Shelves: children-s
Technically I'm still "reading" this book. I'm going cross-eyed looking for the hidden items in the pictures.

I'm also trying to figure out the map within each drawing on my own, which may likely end in tears.

But it's a fun book none the less. The story is cute and the pictures are interesting (despite the whole cross-eyed thing I have going on.)

People who prefer books with deep meaning should steer clear, but if you still enjoy your inner child, I would recommend it.
May 30, 2010 Kathrina rated it really liked it
I love, love the concept of this book. My boys were so engaged they chose to continue reading over watching a movie. The illustrations are excellent and the author's tone is delightful. I'm just so flummoxed by the clues that should lead you to the real treasure. Where are they coming from? State, Highway, Mile, that I don't get, but the lower levels of mystery are quite engaging, both for my seven-year-old, my eleven-year-old and myself.
Mar 17, 2013 Diane rated it liked it
13 floors in the apartment building; 13 robberies: the last one being the numbers from the Emerald Kronicker, a cursed clock. But Roy Dodge is on the case, with his somewhat hapless confidential assistant, Gus. As they go from floor to floor asking questions and drawing each room, the mystery slowly reveals itself to Dodge. And they all meet in the lobby fo hear who the thief is. Kind of a disappointing solution to the mystery but the illustrations are fabulous and the suspects are hilarious!
Jun 16, 2010 Teri marked it as to-read
I heard about this book on NPR the other day. The missing numbers on the clock are hidden in real locations, and readers are invited to find them. Not only do you get the prestige of finding the number, but they are set with emeralds. On NPR, they talked to a girl who found the number 8 buried in Beloit, IL. I think they said 3 of the numbers are still MIA, including the twelfth and most precious one.
Mar 22, 2014 Hans rated it it was amazing
This crazy mash-up is an odd-sized, die-cut board book with chapters and a now-complete, real-world treasure hunt. This may not be a book to read on public transit, but it is the perfect book if you want to lose yourself inside the illustrations for a while. All the floors are as interesting as the frequently punningly-named characters, but my favorite is the fourth floor which literally features two of everything...look closely. Floor two was also quite entertaining.
Jun 12, 2010 Rebecca marked it as to-read
Shelves: heard-it-on-npr
So, these authors (Gus Twintig is a pseudonym for Scott Teplin, Mac Barnett, and Eli Horowitz) actually have buried 12 numbers from a clock-face--decorated with real emeralds--around the US. I just heard on NPR this morning that only 3 have not been discovered. I probably won't have time to read this myself before they are discovered, but I think this is SUCH a cute idea for a children's book! For my friends with children, hopefully you can immediately buy this book and join in the fun!
Aug 17, 2010 Kristen rated it really liked it
Shelves: childrens
How cool! It's a bit like "Masquerade" by Kit Williams, only way less creepy! Readers get to study the pictures to determine where 12 emerald-studded numbers are buried across the country. I love the art and the story, but I wish there'd been a bit more at the end to wrap up how and why the villain(s) committed the crime. Still, cool concept!
Nov 11, 2010 Kate rated it liked it
Recommends it for: young detective types
Recommended to Kate by: Rd children's fiction shelves
Shelves: childrensbooks
I will admit here that my girth imbued the journey across the apartment with a certain element of hazard.

I am a master of the discreet harumph.

I can change pigs into pants. Firewood into laughter. Emeralds to eyeballs.

I paused to enjoy the image. A gorilla with a walking stick, and perhaps a top hat and a monocle--probably attending the theater!
Jun 19, 2010 Jeanni rated it it was ok
If clues were written for children than I'm an idiot. Story lacking, and clues very hard. Why do you think that only adults and major treasure hunting sites are really finding the clock pieces? Not really for kids as far as hunting is concerned. Go to main site at and read about the people that have found the numbers.
Mr. Steve
Aug 09, 2010 Mr. Steve rated it really liked it
What an interesting book/concept! I could see kids who like mysteries poring over the details of the drawings of each apartment, looking for little clues. The real good sleuths would be able to figure it out, I think. (I didn't - sigh.) Even if you didn't solve the mystery, you can go back and see all the visual clues you missed.

Really fun.
Sep 18, 2011 Jane rated it really liked it
Good luck trying to solve this. The mystery is real and the clues are out there in the real world. They have been found up to 11. Number 12 is still out there. The book is cool though as you try to solve the mystery going from floor to floor. Each page is an apartment floor. If you like National Treasure or Where's Waldo and other puzzles, then this is for you, adult or child!
Feb 17, 2016 Kelly marked it as stopped-partway-will-resume-later
Not actually a board book -- a complicated mystery in the form of a graphic novel nominally geared toward young adults (but is really for everyone). Also, there is (real) buried treasure which can be found (and kept) if you decipher the clues from the book.
Sep 08, 2010 Mary rated it liked it
Shelves: juvenile, mystery
Jeweled numbers have been stolen from the clock of the 13th floor resident of an apartment house. Dodge and gus gow to each floor to solve the mystery. Book is shaped like a building and each page has a floor plan w/belongings of the floor being investigated.
May 18, 2010 brain rated it really liked it
I mean, it's already read, but I'm not rich yet.

A month later, I'm still not rich and am pretty much waiting on someone to crack one of them so I can swoop in, vulture-like, and get my mitts on any remaining treasure.
May 16, 2010 Karen marked it as to-read
An interesting looking mystery book in the children's section at B&N. Pretty wordy. For strong 1st grader through 3rd grader perhaps.
Mar 11, 2016 Dolores rated it really liked it
A very intriguing and involving read. Although I dread finding a place to shelve it, I do love the format. It was very clever and it was fun to solve the mystery along with the characters.
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